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Most people know that Americans love to grill, whether on natural gas, propane or charcoal grills. But the numbers bearing out the prevalence of the pastime might be surprising even to other grillers: 63% of the country’s population grills monthly, and more than half of the people living in the U.S. say they cook outdoors year-round. You might think of winter as the time to pack the patio furniture away and use an indoor rather than outdoor fireplace, but even with the cold temperatures and snowfall currently battering the Northeast, Midwest and South, grilling is still possible in the winter months. All you need is a little preparation:

Choose the Right Spot

You’ll want to find a good spot for your grill that’s cleared of snow and out of the wind. The first is a safety concern, since you don’t want to be slipping and sliding near a hot grill, and the latter ensures that you won’t have trouble lighting your briquettes (for charcoal grills) or keeping your heat from blowing away (for all grills). It’s extremely important, however, that you not grill in an enclosed space. It’s very easy when using propane grills or charcoal grills to be unaware of carbon monoxide buildup. In fact, because carbon monoxide is both colorless and odorless, it can kill you without your ever noticing anything is wrong. Be smart, and never grill inside.

Wear the Right Clothes

Especially with the record low temperatures being seen in states across the country, this is no time to act too tough for proper clothing. Dress warmly; frostbite can set in in a surprisingly short amount of time. Do, however, make sure that scarves and other accessories are tucked in so they don’t catch on fire as you lean over the grill, and wear heat-resistant barbecue gloves, not regular snow gloves. Some synthetic materials sometimes used for inexpensive gloves can even melt if they get too hot, so it’s worth investing in the right gear.

Grill the Right Foods

When you’re cooking in the wintertime, it’s best to stick to what you know, rather than deciding to try new, elaborate recipes. This is because you’ll want to put your food on the grill and then leave the lid shut until your timer tells you your food is completely done. Opening the lid to constantly check on progress will significantly extend your cooking time. Don’t let the cold prompt you to forget your regular grilling knowledge, either; you still need to follow all normal safety precautions, such as using a new platter for your cooked food, rather than putting it on the same one that you brought your raw meat or poultry outside on, and keeping any potentially flammable outdoor furniture a distance away.

Do you have any other winter grilling tips to share? Use the comments section to chime in.